Hospice a Welcome Change of Pace for Former ER Nurse
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s important to know when to slow down. For Ashlee Warren, RN, that moment came about a year and a half ago.
After spending 13 years in critical care and emergency medicine, Ashlee made the move to hospice care at VITAS.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” she says.
Embracing a Change of Pace
While there were many aspects of her former specialty she enjoyed, working through the COVID-19 pandemic helped Ashlee realize she was ready for a change.
“I’d never worked in hospice,” says Ashlee, who is now a VITAS admissions nurse in LaSalle, Illinois. “It's completely different than anything I've ever done in the past. Here, we’re welcomed into patients’ lives. Families are grateful for our help, and we can encourage them to come in and enjoy what time they have left with their loved ones.”
Building relationships with patients and families makes hospice work particularly fulfilling for Ashlee. “Being able to sit with them for an hour and have those conversations with them is really nice.”
While it’s not the same adrenaline rush as her previous career, her work experience helps her in her current role. “I'm still using the critical thinking experience I gained, helping the rest of my team and patients and families figure out solutions to their problems,” she says.
Admissions Nurse: Put Your People Skills to Work
A specialized RN role, the admissions nurse is typically the first individual a potential patient and their family interact with at VITAS.
Nursing is a team effort. ... I always want to be someone my team can depend on.
“I go through the whole hospice process with them—what we do, what we offer, what is covered,” Ashlee says. “I consult with our physicians and get them all set up for the primary care team to take over once they become patients.”
It’s a unique role that requires compassion and patience, and it has proven to be a perfect fit for Ashlee.
“Even though I am very introverted, I’m in a very extroverted line of work,” she says. “I'm really good with people. I try to get to their level and make sure that they're comfortable with what we’re doing. There’s a lot of interaction with people in this job.”
Discover the Possibilities
It’s also good to be passionate about teaching to be successful as an admissions nurse.
“A lot of my role is education. There are a lot of misconceptions about hospice,” Ashlee says. “We educate families who associate hospice with immediately dying. We also educate facilities and providers to bring in referrals earlier. If they bring us on board early, we can ensure the transition is as smooth and painless as possible for everyone.”
Related: FAQs About Working in Hospice >
Being able to teach others is something Ashlee enjoys, so much so that she has been able to look at possibilities to grow her career in that direction.
“My general manager and I have spoken about integrating an education component into my role,” she says.
An Unwavering Focus on People
While Ashlee is an admissions nurse first, her critical care experience and can-do attitude make her a natural resource for team members to call upon in a variety of situations.
“I get to make a difference every day at VITAS because I have such a close relationship with our whole team,” Ashlee says. “Nursing is a team effort. Being able to help my team members is very, very important to me. I always want to be someone my team can depend on.”
It’s a commitment that encompasses a passion for patients, too.
“I'm a nurse, so every patient is my patient,” she says. “Admissions is my primary job, but I feel like they're all my patients. I see almost every single one of them at the beginning. I should be able to follow through at the very end if they need me for that as well.”